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Sweet talk at Annapolis
By Ali Alarabi — Although the speakers meeting in Annapolis were optimistic and almost encouraging in their speeches regarding bringing lasting peace to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, a peace, in the words of president Bush should usher the establishment of a viable Palestinian state side by side with Israel. President Bush speech, though was peppered with references to freedom of the Palestinian people and a “real” and “viable” Palestinian state, but in reality Israel is making every effort to undermine the freedom of the Palestinian people and making the “reality and viability” of any future Palestinian state a virtual impossibility. Ever since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem in 1967, it had embarked on building illegal Jewish settlements on occupied lands, in itself a flagrant violation of international law and then populating those settlements with heavily armed Jewish militants, at the same time kept up pace to depopulate Palestinian cities from it residents through forced expulsions, economic hardship and military rule.Moving rapidly to change the nature of any future Palestinian state, Israel also took over other arable lands and water resources from its Palestinians owners converting it to benefit illegal Jewish settlers.Meanwhile the Israeli government is steadily working to finish the building of the huge Spartan and medieval-looking wall, declared illegal by the International court,which is snaking around Palestinian towns and cities, galloping up Palestinian lands in its path and strangling Arab Jerusalem isolating it from the rest of Palestinian cities.
The most important aspect of President Bush’s speech, however, was his wall-to-wall adaptation of the Israeli positions, as oppose to an independent American position in line with international laws and agreements, with regards to its settlement polices, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and the conversion of Israel from a supposed democratic country for all of its citizens, Christians Muslims and Jews alike into an exclusively Jewish state.
The idea of Israel as a “Jewish homeland” for the Jewish people as asserted by president Bush during his opening speech, is a serious issue with serious implications especially that this idea if it were to be made a reality, it would simply make over one million Arab citizens of Israel, Christians and Muslim instant foreigners in their own native country.
Bush also used the term ” unauthorized outposts” in his speech and not illegal settlements, reflecting his acceptance of the presence of those settlements; illegal under international law on the very land he envisions it to be a Palestinian state. This position not only contradicts the president’s own vision but also a departure from the traditional American position of opposing those illegal settlements.Ehud Olmert on the other hand exploited the Annapolis gathering to extend Israel’s hand to Arab countries by sweet-talking them to open consulates and trade offices and normalize relations, regardless of the status of its occupation or the establishment of Palestine state. This, however, is the real goal of Israeli politicians from this meeting. Negotiating with the Palestinians has been dragging on since 1993, and it has amounted to neither Palestinian state, nor the promised prosperity nor a forseseeable end of occupation, but rather it led to increase of illegal settlements, 11000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, building a Spartan wall, an adamant refusal to admit its responsibility for the creation of Palestinian refugees problem and a complete destruction of the Palestinian economy.
Israeli politicians envision a normal diplomatic and trade relations with Arab countries while Palestinians will be reduced to a state chopped up into disjointed pieces dependent on Israel for its survival.
The only real thing Israel is offering the Palestinians,at this point, is more negotiatiations that will drag on forever, meanwhile it seems that there is no end in sight for its illegal settlements expansion, or its refusal to end its occupation.
Mahmoud Abbas, perhaps the most unpopular Palestinian leader ever, has nothing to offer the Israelis that he did not offer before. The problem however is that Abbas has lost control of Gaza to his arch rival Hamas, and his West Bank fiefdom is ravaged by Israeli check-points and military positions preventing the movement of people in and out of their homes, which left its economy shattered. For the Palestinian people A solution that does not include all of pre-1967 borders, and a just solution for the refugees which will offer them the right to return to their homes would be a hard sell, if not impossible to accept.
(Ali Alarabi is Arab American writer and journalist, he can be reached at: email@example.com. Copyright Arab Writers Group Syndicate, www.ArabWritersGroup.com.)
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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